Alternative Parenting & Feral Children (Upper-Intermediate ESL Lesson Plan)

Download the Parenting lesson plan here: Parenting-Feral-Children-UppIntermediate-15012012.doc

Parenting ESL Lesson Plan: Upper-Intermediate

A lesson plan on parenting

Parenting ESL Lesson Plan: Warm-up (Pair Work)

1) Were you ever left alone or lost for a long time as a child? Or have you ever lost a child?
2) What qualities make a good parent?
3) What does “alternative parenting” mean? What are some alternative parenting ideas?
4) If you had to be raised by animals in the wild, what animals would be the best parents?

Alternative Parenting and Feral Children (January 16th 2012)

In April, police were called to a domestic dispute at a house in Prague where they discovered two severely underdeveloped toddlers. The children, both boys aged three and 18 months, suffered from physical and mental deprivation due to the “alternative” parenting methods of their parents.
The children had never left their home and thus were unknown to the authorities and the family’s relatives. They were very unhealthy and reportedly lacked the regular “bite reflex”, having not been fed solid foods. They were unable to walk normally and only able to say the word “hello.” Their parents, subscribers to an “alternative lifestyle” which includes forgoing all electronic devices, did not register the children in order to avoid compulsory vaccinations.
The parents were taken to court for neglecting their children. The father was given an eight-year prison sentence. The mother received a three-year suspended sentence and has been ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment. The children are now in protective care.

A feral child is a child that has been isolated from human contact from a very young age. Some feral children are confined by their parents, others abandoned. Many legends exist of children found in the wild, some allegedly having been raised by animals. One famous case tells of Victor of Aveyron, a child who emerged naked from a forest in France in 1800 at the age of twelve. Doctors, who believed he had been abandoned at four years old, had little success teaching Victor to speak or process verbal commands. A doctor described his capacity to hear as “nothing but a simple means of self-preservation which warned of the approach of a dangerous animal or the fall of wild fruit.” The study of Victor and other feral children has helped scientists better understand human nature, the role of environment in the learning process, and language development. (305 words)


Parenting ESL Lesson Plan: Comprehension Questions

1)    What were the boys in Prague able to do?
2)    True or False: one of the children in Prague bit a policeman.
3)    Why weren’t the children registered at a hospital?
4)    What punishment did the father receive?
5)    Could Victor hear?
6)    How did Victor’s case benefit science?
1 – They could say hello and walk in an unusual way
2 – False
3 – They weren’t registered because the parents didn’t want the children to be vaccinated.
4 – He has been sent to jail for 8 years.
5 – Yes, he could hear things, like fruit falling from a tree. But he couldn’t process verbal commands.
6 – It enabled scientists to learn more about how humans acquire language and knowledge.

Parenting ESL Lesson Plan: Post-Comprehension Questions<

1)    Was the father’s punishment too strict?
2)    Could you believe in a tale of a child being raised by wolves, bears, or monkeys?

Parenting ESL Lesson Plan: Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
forgo (verb)
neglect (verb)
confine (verb)
  • toddler – a child who has recently learned to walk
  • deprivation – the fact of not having sth that you need
  • forgo – do without, give up
  • compulsory – mandatory, necessary
  • neglect – fail to give enough care/attention to sth
  • feral – living wild
  • isolated – far away from others; lonely
  • confine – keep a person/animal in a small limited place
  • alleged – supposed; claimed
  • capacity – the ability to understand or do sth
  • self-preservation – protecting your own survival.

Parenting ESL Lesson Plan: Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.

government / uprising
neglect / toddler
deprivation / food
forgo / television
compulsory / parents
feral / isolated
confine / prisoner
boy / alleged / monkeys
capacity / language
self-preservation / jungle


Choose the Correct Word: physical, psychiatric, psychic, psychological
____________ – related to the study and treatment of mental illness
____________ – connected with a person’s body rather than the mind
____________ – connected with strange (supernatural) powers of the mind
____________ – related to the study of the mind and human behavior

Parenting ESL Lesson Plan: Debate

Background: Many countries now have `baby boxes’ where parents can anonymously drop off unwanted children. Imagine that your city is now considering creating such boxes.

(note: each student reads his/her role only)

Student A: You are pro-baby box. Think of reasons to support your argument. When ready, ask your partner what he/she thinks of the baby box idea.

Student B: You are anti-baby box. Think of reasons to support your argument (e.g. children cannot learn who their parents were, parents should use counseling instead, etc). Your partner will start the conversation when you are ready.

Parenting ESL Lesson Plan: Role Play

Student A: You don’t want your boy to go to school because it’s dangerous. You will teach him yourself at home. Also, you don’t want him to play video games or watch TV. Think of reasons to support your choices. Soon, your telephone will ring.

Student B: You are a parent-in-law of Student A. Telephone him/her and ask about your grandson. Ask: 1) if she has decided if he will go to a public or private school, and 2) if he wants to come over and watch Harry Potter with you this weekend.

Parenting ESL Lesson Plan: Alternative Education Ideas

Which do you agree with? Discuss with a partner.

–       sleeping in the same bed as your child
–       no TV or video games
–       cloth diapers
–       refusing vaccinations
–       never letting your child “cry it out.”
–       extended breastfeeding
–       homeschooling
–       organic food
–       natural childbirth
–       (other ideas?)

Parenting ESL Lesson Plan: Discussion Questions

1) Language development: what’s the best way to raise a bilingual child?
2) Schooling: Is it better for children to attend public or private schools in your country?


Lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of

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One comment on “Alternative Parenting & Feral Children (Upper-Intermediate ESL Lesson Plan)

  1. Michelle Gerber (Posted on 7-21-2021 at 12:08) Reply

    This resource is fantastic! Well done!

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